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Will British Troop Reduction Effect War Effort?

By: Pachatta Pope Email
By: Pachatta Pope Email

Great Britain's decision to reduce its military presence in Iraq is being met with mixed reaction. While the White House said it's a positive sign that progress is being made, others interpret the news differently.

"It is a huge crisis in terms of the U.S. strategy in Iraq which is very quickly unraveling," said Professor Michael Desch with the Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Desch says the pullout would leave a vacuum that could likely be filled by insurgents. Currently, there are more than 7,000 British troops in Iraq. Most are in the Basra region. The draw down would decrease that number to around 5,500.

Desch goes on to say it is likely that more than 1,600 British troops could be moved out of southern Iraq in the announced time frame. He believes insurgents in Baghdad attempting to flee American forces could retreat to the southern provinces after the British leave.

"This could not come at a worst time," Desch said. "We really wanted to try to take down [enemy forces]. The last thing we want is a weakening of the British presence in [those mainly Shi'ite regions]."

Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement comes as President Bush is planning to send more than 20,000 troops to Iraq to try and secure Baghdad.

But Britain is not the only country with plans to bring troops home. Denmark, Lithuania, and South Korea also have made similar exit announcements. Desch said the multinational coalition is becoming smaller and smaller and the war will be viewed as belonging to the U.S.

"With the British leaving, that means this is now clear for everybody to see that this is an American show," Desch said.


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